I love roasted pork so very much. Pork cracking, siu yuk, 烧肉, sio bak, whatever its called in the many different languages, if it’s there, I devour. Period. Conquering Balinese cuisine’s most wanted, Babi Guling, was high on the list of things to do on my chillax Bali getaway.
Since we were staying at Seminyak, we decided to walk over to Pak Malen, a warung (small restaurant) which sells only it’s signature dish, the traditional Balinese Babi Guling. It’s actually a very popular warung visited by the locals which was then discovered by tourists and really made popular by the food spies on the interwebs. Pak Malen is at Jalan Sunset Road, just a 15 to 20 minute walk from our hotel, Ize Seminyak.
The ever-busy roads in Bali
Statues spotted by the roadside
Higher end boutiques can be found at Seminyak on the road to Pak Malen
Pak Malen is really hard to miss. There’s no fancy marketing spiel on the signage, just really basic and in your face sort of “look-we-sell-suckling-pig-and-teh-botol” type of signage, which I must add is basically the only few things that they sell here. When you are at Pak Malen, don’t stress at all, there’s only so many choices you can make, so take a chill pill and just order!
You definitely can’t get a more authentic experience eating Babi Guling than in a traditional warung like Pak Malen. Don’t expect air-conditioning and all the comforts of modern day restaurant dining. It is is unpretentious and every bit traditional and family-owned as a good ‘ol hawker centre stall in Singapore.
It was late afternoon already when we reached and was still crowded, but we were lucky enough to get ourselves seated within minutes. I overheard plenty of chatter in Bahasa Indonesia and figured that Pak Malen was truly, a hit with the locals. Even with bus loads of tourists coming by to grab a bite, Pak Malen maintains its pretty affordable price (average spending would be around 25,000 rupiah per person) and offers a quick fuss-free dining experience.
Pak Malen bilboards
The warung is manned by two sisters
Spicy dishes on display
When we made our order, we had a look of pure confusion of how to order and the guy serving us just chuckled at us and said, “Babi Guling Only!” We ordered three servings of Nasi Babi Guling and that was that. He also prompted us, “Teh Botol?” and to that we just nodded our heads in agreement as well. Whatever dude, as long as its freaking super awesome.
So apparently there are different sets and that will just present you with different items to accompany your Babi Guling atop some fragrant Nasi (rice). I’m not picky, just gimme some Babi Guling already.
Teh Botol and a bowl of soup
Teh Botol or sweetened tea drink
A serving of Nasi Babi Guling
Each Nasi Babi Guling set comes in a basket and is accompanied by a small bowl of very tasty soup (no doubt simmered for hours using the pork bones). I got some lean sliced pork, a really nice piece of crisp crackling, bits of spiced deep fried pork skin (really felt like bacon bits), and lawar (vegetables cooked in herbs, spices and coconut milk). I was really stunned by how spicy everything was. So my tongue was burning and I was still stuffing my face with spoonfuls of nasi and lawar between mouthfuls of Babi Guling and this spicy chopped lemongrass and minced meat concoction.
It was not bad, quite decent and at a good price too. That said, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but whatever I ate, didn’t match up to my expectations of this incredible Babi Guling I’ve been hearing countless raves about. Yes, I did find it delicious but in the same way I would find any other Nasi Padang dish in Singapore yummy. I just couldn’t correlate the hype to what I ate. It was really underwhelming!
On retrospect, it could really be a case of us being there too late and all the “good” areas were already sold out. I’ll never know if this really was the case until the next time I’m in Bali. Perhaps, I’ll do a breakfast trip next to test this theory! Anyone has had Pak Malen Babi Guling and would like to share your experience?
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Jalan Sunset Road No. 5, Seminyak, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia 80361